Adventures In Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Beyond This Point, Water Snakes Dwell
Girl, we don't wanna know what slithers in that there lake.
If it's good enough for R. Pat and Jenny Aniston, it's good enough for Dallas. No, I'm not talking about balayage highlights or Gucci toe-less socks; I'm talking about stand-up paddleboarding.
People Magazine was the first person that told me about stand-up paddleboarding, (that bitch knows everything) so it's been on my list of "ways to fall in a body of water" for a couple years now. Once I discovered that White Rock Paddle Company (WRPC) rented the things, I picked a Sunday, grabbed a friend and set off on a real live adventure. When we got to the lake, it was windy. That's it. Not gusty or gale force, just a little breezy so we chickened out and kayaked instead. (WRPC rents those, too.) I vowed to return and one day conquer that lake -- and one week later, I did.
The first thing you should know about White Rock Paddle is they're totally digital. You can make a reservation online and you should because there's nothing worse than showing up and not having a vessel. (Yeah, we're doing that now.) If you don't pay online, you can pay when you get there. Cash and cards? Accepted. Handmade coupon books for hugs? Not accepted. You'll also sign a waiver and leave a Driver's License while you take out the boards. Since you're renting by the hour, you'll definitely need a waterproof watch or extensive knowledge of how to build and read a sundial. You can also rent dry bags for your phone which are pretty freaking handy. After that, WRPC will outfit you with a life jacket and give you a quick run through of how to paddle, steer, slow down and turn. I went to summer camp as a kid so I pretty much knew everything already including how to ask a boy to a Sadie Hawkins dance (that last bit didn't come up).
I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous. I love White Rock Lake and all, but I'm not ready to be covered in it. No matter how pretty a lake is, it just seems kind of toilet-y, you know? My focus was not falling in and not looking like a total chode in front of everyone within eyeshot.
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The White Rock rep promised it was easier than it looked and he wasn't lying. When you're paddling away from shore you're on your knees and then once you get a safe distance you stand up. The boards are huge so it really is easy to balance and on a day with no wind, it was ironically a breeze.
Once you get up, the lake is pretty much yours to explore as long as you stay away from the sailboats. There are other paddleboarders, kayakers and row teams out there, too, so just don't be a dick and you'll be fine. I headed towards the middle of the lake so I'd have more room to practice paddling, turning and staying out of other people's way. The paddleboard oar is double-sided and there's only one. It's really long (you know, because you're standing), but it's easy to use. I quickly discovered that since the board is so big, it's harder to turn that a kayak or canoe. Honestly, the smoothest turns were the ones I made by paddling backwards.
I can't speak for all lakes, but at White Rock there's a little tributary that comes off the lake and provides a scenic tour. It's heavily treed and bayou-y and you'll see turtles, cranes and maybe even a snake. Yes, we saw a snake. It swam right in front of us and even though my body wanted to seize up in panic, I played it cool. After I cheated death (not really) I told a friend about the snake, "Can you even believe that?!?" He said, "Yes, I think it's called 'nature.'"
Boys, am I right?!?
Stupid snake aside, it was a pretty awesome mid-morning adventure and I highly recommend it. We rented the boards for one hour and it was perfect. You can rent them for just about any length of time so don't feel like you have to copycat me...though all of America probably should.
White Rock Paddle Company is open Tuesday through Sunday.
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